Do you insure your camera gear?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by hwan, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. hwan

    hwan Mu-43 Regular

    38
    Sep 20, 2014
    St Louis, MO
    I just made a switch from Canon to the E-M1 with the Oly 17, 25, 45, and 75 lenses. With the Canon, I had expensive Zeiss lenses, so I insured my entire camera collection in case of theft and accidental damage, especially since I was traveling abroad frequently with my gear.

    Now, the lenses are much cheaper, and I won't be traveling much. The insurance premium is about $50 per year with no deductibles. However, unless I get my entire collection stolen, I feel it's not worth filing a claim and have it affect other insurance rates.

    So, I'm wondering how many out there insure their equipment.
     
  2. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    512
    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Ivor
    Only as part of my home insurance.

    Never actually thought of insuring my cameras and lenses separately...
     
  3. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Home insurance for camera gear is typically pretty useless. It doesn't cover the perils that typically result in loss of camera gear. Unless someone breaks into your house and steals your gear or your home burns down with your camera gear in it you are not covered. Stolen while you are out and about - not covered. Dropped in a lake - not covered. Even in the case of theft of your camera gear from your home you really should have a very high deductible on a home owners policy and if you have your policy set up correctly the camera gear is going to fall below the deductible anyway. (Home owners policies should really have deductibles set at $5000 or higher, self insure for claims lower than $5K by having an emergency fund. Lower deductible policies are extremely expensive as they really aren't insurance policies, they are maitenance policies and are priced as such. Try pricing policies at say $5K and $500 deductible and see the huge difference in price). Finally making a claim against a home owners policy that has had no claims for a decade to cover your camera loss could result in higher premiums going forward that erode any of the payment out from the policy.

    So that leaves what are sometimes called "valuable personal property" policies though they go by many names. These protect specific items, like jewelry or cameras, from "all perils" with no deductible. Drop in a lake is covered under such a policy. Costs vary but $15/yr for each $1000 covered is a good working number. These policies specifically exclude camera gear that is used to generate income, so pro shooters need to find different and more expensive insurance. Some people worry about even a VPP claim affecting their other policies and open this kind of insurance with a different company than their home owners plan. One thing to realize is that many insurance claims are reported to a common shared database between carriers and so the utility of this approach is in question.

    The general rule for all insurance is to self insure when you can and only carry coverage for "catastrophic events". That means high deductibles on all your home and vehicle policies. By that logic a VPP plan doesn't make too much sense. On the other hand the cost is about 1.5 to 2% per year and so if you expect to lose all your insured gear say once every 50 years perhaps it does make sense. This comes down to you having more actuarial knowledge than the insurer. Maybe you travel a lot with your gear leaving loss to theft a much more likely event than for the average insured photographer. Maybe you get on and off boats with your gear a lot, or you just know you are clumbsy and careless. So it certainly can make sense for some people. And lastly there is "peace of mind" which probably has some value, if having the insurance means you feel comfortable using your gear more then probably the insurance has a lot of value!

    Personally I started out with such a policy for my Canon gear. I felt a lot more comfortable climbing in and out of zodiac boats in the surf in the Galapagos because I had that policy! But I never ended up needing to use it. Since then I've realized that I can easily self insure my camera gear and have dropped the policy. I might consider reactivating it if I were to take some sort of long trip that involved an increased likelihood of loss.
     
  4. hwan

    hwan Mu-43 Regular

    38
    Sep 20, 2014
    St Louis, MO
    @kwalsh: That's exactly the situation I'm in. It was worth it for me over the past few years to insure almost $8000 worth of equipment as I was traveling a lot, where theft was definitely something I was concerned about. But now that that's not the case anymore, I feel that there's no need to keep my coverage. Thanks for your input. I think you've done a great job at convincing me to cancel my policy. Now, if I do end up dropping my camera, I'll be coming after you with a stick. :tongue:
     
  5. pasisti

    pasisti Mu-43 Regular

    66
    Dec 16, 2013
    Helsinki, Finland
    This might depend heavily on the laws and insurance laws/policies of the country and insurance company. The home insurance I have is a "under 30-year-olds' special price" insurance. Everything I own is covered whether I'm home, carrying it out and about or out of country. In case of a theft/accident I have to pay up to 100 euros of the expenses/losses, the rest is covered by the insurance company. After I turn 30, the cost is a little more (something like from 75%->100%) and also I have to pay up to about 175 euros of the damages myself, instead of the 100 euros. Considering my camera equipment, this insurance is all I need. I live in Finland, by the way.

    The couple of times I have broken the glass of my smartphone I just called the insurance company and they said that "oh, a shame, but well, the money for the repairs will be in your account shortly!" No need to show the phone to anyone and I really don't think they are ever going to ask to see the repair receipts. But I of course have them around, just in case.
     
  6. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    pasisti, I'm guessing in Finland the insurance companies may not have the politicians in their pockets quite like they do in the US.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus Loser

    941
    Nov 16, 2010
    Finland
    My home insurance covers the camera gear also. There is some sort of limit for the value of individual items but I think only Leica can produce so pricey items that would go over the limit.
     
  8. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Veteran

    Before you buy additional insurance, you need to understand the homeowner's or renter's insurance you already have. In the USA, insurance companies are regulated by each of the states, and not by the federal government. So coverage is determined very much by where you live in the USA, and the policies can vary quite a bit in what and how they cover you.

    If the insurance "language" is too impenetrable for you to fully comprehend, call your insurance agent and ask, that's what he or she is there for. Make him EARN his commission! Early in my adult life, I was an insurance salesman, so I know how boring a job it is. Chances are, he or she will love the break in the routine.
     
  9. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I only have homeowners coverage on my gear. I'm not saying it's not a good idea to have dedicated coverage, but I don't make a living off my gear and I could bankrupt myself by insuring everything to within an inch of my life. I've decided to insure what I absolutely must and/or am required to by law: life, home, health, car, etc. One newer type of coverage that I recommend and usually doesn't cost much at all: identify theft.
     
  10. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I should highlight my comments mostly only apply to insurance in the USA. And even in the USA home owners policies vary quite a bit! For other countries policies will likely be very different.
     
  11. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    512
    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Ivor
    Aye, here in Scotland I imagine things are very different than they are in America. :thumbup:
     
  12. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I advise all who insure anything to actually read the fine print AND confirm with a representative.

    My camera gear is through the home insurance w/ rider. In that case, my equipment is covered for loss, stolen, or accidentals outside of the home. I am charged $18 per $1000 dollars of value per year. No deductible. Lenses and cameras are declared separately. In order to declare, I need a receipt of purchase or an assesment of item value through a chosen by the insurance company.

    reminds me.... i'm closing up on m annual update the declared list.
     
  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Australian home insurance generally doesn't provide enough coverage for even the average enthusiasts kit. Some items can be specified at additional cost, but my home and contents insurance has never been able to cover my gear, hence I've always had professional camera insurance. I used to have both equipment and public liability, but now only have the equipment insured. I've only ever made one claim in my life, but having it is still a good option.
     
  14. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    My insurer had limits per category, e.g. a jewelry limit, electronics limit, etc.

    I was burglarized several years ago and hit some of those limits as jewelry, watches, laptops, and cameras were stolen.

    Since then, I have added a "media" add-on (for my computers, TVs, tablets, and cameras) to the home insurance.
    It raises that category limit by quite a bit.

    I also got a safe, a monitored alarm, and security cameras.

    Barry
     
  15. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I have specific camera insurance - global cover, replacement at purchase cost (new), accidental damage, loss or theft covered. Not cheap, but worth it to me since theft on holiday would mean only losing 200 euros and getting the full purchase sum back. I see no point to owning great cameras if I can't take them to less safe parts of the world, and that lets me do that.

    They also paid out after a home burglary, and the payout for the e-m5, 12-35 and 100-300 (both purchased second hand and insured at that value) covered the replacement E-M1 and 12-40, new.